POPLAR LANDING: Will City Honour 2013 Promise Of ‘tons of community consultation’ on last piece of Quayside Land?

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“So we will jointly, and with tons of community consultation, we will come up with some visioning for the site.” Bev Grieve, New West Director of Development Service
2013 New West Record

In a Sep 19, 2013 interview with Theresa McManus of the New West Record, Bev Grieve, the city’s acting Director of Development Service, was quoted as saying about the development of Poplar Landing, “We are going to have preliminary discussions with Metro Vancouver about how we move ahead with it. So we will jointly, and with tons of community consultation, we will come up with some visioning for the site.” Will the city keep this promise?

At the 2017 AGM in January, guest speaker Councillor Patrick Johstone gave an update on this last piece of land in the Quayside community. Upon concluding his comments on this site, it became clear that this project has moved forward. Yet, as this project is taking shape, the QCB, or any resident in the Quay that we are aware of, has been asked to provide input toward this housing project.

Clr. Johnstone was made aware that the Quayside (with over 4500 residents) community is concerned about the lack of basic amenities such as a Community Centre and bus shelters. As Poplar Landing is the last significant piece of property to be built on, this is the one and only opportunity for the community to press for the inclusion of a public meeting space. If there were an emergency or if a community group wanted to meet – they have no place to go in the Quay. Emergency services have no single place in the Quay to instruct persons to go in an emergency and this is a serious concern. Further notes QCB, the lack of this basic amenity hinders the community from forming into a cohesive and supportive environment. We have no place to meet our neighbours.

So, now that Poplar Landing is back on the table at city hall, the QCB would like to formally request that it and the community be included at the table ‘a ton’ before plans are finalized.. According to the dictionary a ‘’Ton’ means “Often, a great quantity; a lot”. With this definition in mind, the QCB waits for the consulting to begin so we can have our say on this critical piece of land that is destined to become the western gateway into our great neighbourhood.

READ SEPT 19,2013 NEW WEST RECORD Article by Theresa McManus
CLICK ON LINK TO EMAIL Mayor Coté, Council and City

A dog park and a sewer facility will continue to be focal points at the Poplar Landing site for the foreseeable future.
The former Doman mill site is located at the west end of the Quayside neighbourhood at 1400 Quayside Dr.
“We are not even at the vision yet,” said Bev Grieve, the city’s acting director of development services. “We are going to have preliminary discussions with Metro Vancouver about how we move ahead with it. So we will jointly, and with tons of community consultation, we will come up with some visioning for the site. It hasn’t happened yet. Literally, we are sitting down and saying what do we have in front of us now. It’s early days in terms of the discussion – there was a phone call.”
Back in January 2003, the city and the GVRD entered into a memorandum of understanding the spelled out ownership of the site and the design, construction and maintenance of the combined sewer overflow facility. The facility, completed in 2007 is located on the northern end of the 3.8 acre Poplar Landing site.
“They have their CSO facility there. They have that interest,” Grieve said. “They are also entitled to essentially half of any revenue generated from that site.”
In 2007, staff reported to council on the future direction of Poplar Landing, with city staff recommending that the city seek expressions of interest from appropriate members of the development community for the deign of a sustainable housing demonstration project and a city park. The city held workshops in 2003 and 2004 to identify a development vision for the site.
The site is currently zoned multiple dwelling residential district – low rise, although the some of the adjacent lands have zoning that allows for highrises.
“In the official community plan it shows the site as being park. We see some kind of housing,” Grieve said. “In fact the zoning on the site allows multifamily housing and park. That’s what we are looking at. As well, the CSO tank will stay there forever and a day.”
While the public consultation hasn’t taken place, Grieve anticipates that park space will be one of the site’s main features.
“In fact it has a name, Muni Evers Park. But we don’t know what part of it is Muni Evers Park, we know what some of it is.”
The first project to take place on the site was the combined sewer waterflow treatment facility, because the city felt it was a priority as it decreased costs of sewage treatment and reduced the sewer overflow from steaming into the Fraser River during heavy rainfalls.
“It’s super early days,” Grieve said about planning for the site. “Given everything else we have on our plate it’s going to be challenging to get to this. I think we are everyone is excited by the potential there.”
Before any work can be done at the site, further remediation must take place at the site.
“The issue around contamination has essentially been addressed. We are finishing that off,” Grieve said. “Doman was responsible for it. They are maybe a year away from them being absolutely clean.”
If anyone is anxious to see the project get underway at Poplar Landing it’s Western Forest Products Inc., which launched legal action against the City of New Westminster regarding the length of time the city had been taking to remediate the land after purchasing the Doman Forest Product Limited sawmill site in June 2002. Court documents indicate that the parties agreed that when the remediation was complete, the city would remit the balance of the purchase price, less the costs of remediation, plus interest.
“More than 10 years have now passed, and because the remediation is only partially finished, the city has not yet paid the balance of the purchase price. In the meantime, on June 11, 2004 the right and obligations of Doman were transferred to the plaintiff, Western Forest Products Inc.,” stated the judge’s ruling. “The plaintiff now claims of the monies owing, as it says the city has not been diligent in pursuing the remediation.”
In March 2011, Western Forest Projects filed notice of a civic claim against the City of New Westminster for breach of contract regarding the land that’s located at the foot of Third Avenue, between 14th Street and the north bank of the Fraser River.
A court document indicates the city anticipated two different uses for the lands – construction of a combined sewer overflow storage reservoir, and a park and/or residential development. The document also details plans for remediating several areas of concern on the site, where portions of lands are contaminated with cholorophenols, hydrocarbons and elevated metal concentrations, as well as evidence of arsenic, lead and silver concentrations in sediment samples.
In the years that followed after purchasing the site, environmental standards changed and remediation had to adhere to stricter standards. Additional requests from the ministry also contributed to delays in remediation, as did construction of the combined sewer overflow project that was done between 2005 and 2009.
Through the years, Western Forest Products has expressed concern that the ongoing delays were unacceptable and impacting the scope and costs of remediation because regulatory standards increased over time. It was also concerned that the combined sewer overflow project had gone forward on Parcel A when remediation had yet to be complete, and that plans for Parcel B were being revised and could include a higher density residential development than originally envisioned.
In March 2001, Western Forest Products filed a notice of a civic claim and commenced action in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. It argued that the city hadn’t made reasonable efforts to complete the remediation diligently and in a timely fashion and was therefore in breach of its agreement, and asked that the city pay it all of the mortgage money owned.
The City of New Westminster’s position was that it wasn’t in breach of the agreement as it had made efforts to complete the remediation in a timely fashion. It also noted that the agreement didn’t specify a timeline on how long the remediation might take, and that Western Forest Products was responsible for the full cost of the remediation, work, no matter how long it too.
In his ruling Mr. Justice Ehrcke said Western Forest Products has not shown that the
city is in breach of its obligation under the agreement of the mortgage. “While it might have been possible to proceed more quickly with some aspects of the remediation, the agreement did not require the city to proceed as quickly as possible,” he wrote in his ruling.
The agreement stated that the city and its contractors would “take reasonable efforts to commence and complete the remediation of the lands diligently and in a timely fashion”, noted the judge. “In my view, the city’s efforts to date have not fallen below that standards.”
The judge also pointed out that Western had complained about the delay in remediation during construction of the combined sewer overflow project and delays associated with the city’s consideration of the type of development that would ultimately take place on Parcel B.
“In my view, the city’s actions in regards to both these points was not unreasonable in the context of the agreement and did not amount to a breach of the city’s obligation to take reasonable efforts to complete the remediation diligently and in a timely fashion,” stated the judge. “The plaintiff’s claim against the city is dismissed with costs.”